No, not the thunderous open-ice variety nor the kind where he rides his man off the puck and into the boards – although the diminutive defenseman doesn’t shy away from that kind of contact.
Where Mike Weaver comes up big is in the number of visits he attracts to the several websites he’s designed and developed over the years since logging both ice time and class time during his playing days at university.
“My major was in telecommunications at Michigan State with a minor in virtual reality software development and web design. It was fun,” he says of his four years on campus in East Lansing, Michigan where he starred with the Spartans from 1996 to 2000 and still maintains an off-season home. “While everybody else was in math classes, I was on the computer.” FULL PLATE
Among his projects, the 29-year-old who signed as a free agent with Pittsburgh in the summer but was claimed by the Canucks on waivers earlier this month, has designed defensefirst.com (his own hockey school’s website), insidecollegehockey.com (a top NCAA hockey website) and oakwoodsports.com (a site for a friend who designs and builds high-end locker rooms for college and professional sports teams).
“It’s just a side job. Hey, while everybody else is on the plane playing poker, I’m on there designing web sites,” he says with a laugh. “It’s good to keep sharp on the computer skills because with that industry things are ever changing.”
Weaver, who broke into the NHL with Atlanta in 2001-02 and spent the past two seasons playing with the LA Kings, admits he might just be the most cyber-savvy player in the league these days. But in the same breath, he knows that may not be saying a whole lot. TECH SUPPORT
“It’s funny, when I was in Los Angeles I was the tech support for the team and I actually made house calls all the time,” he says. “I’ve been on a few teams and switched a few guys from Windows to McIntosh computers. I switched over Rob Blake and Mattias Norstrom last year and I actually had a little computer get-together and showed them how to use it and stuff like that.
“I don’t mind helping out guys on the team – obviously, they’d do the same for you,” he adds. “So if you have this talent, I guess you could call it, you might as well share it.”
While most hockey players only concern themselves with reading plays as they develop, Mike Weaver’s ability to read goes a litter further. Oh, he’s able to recognize a forecheck and make the simple play to clear the zone, but he’s also able to decipher more complex and detailed items that would make his teammates’ heads spin – like the fact that ‘slash’ and ‘shift’ aren’t terms exclusively used in hockey rinks.
“I’m not really big into code, but I am able to read it. But now you can use programs that are more or less drag-and-drop and they do the code for you,” he says of his web endeavours. “Obviously, I’m not as advanced as some of these 10-year-olds now days, but I have my entire house back in Michigan wired up for everything.” HIGH-TECH COMMUNICATIONS
One of Weaver’s best applications of his computer skills these days is keeping in touch with his wife Rhianna, who’s currently living in Toronto and is seven months pregnant with the couple’s first child (a baby boy due in early December).
“With her being pregnant and I’ve been away from her for about a month now, we’ve been doing a lot on iChat on the Macintosh and we’re able to communicate back and forth through video,” he says. “It helps out. It doesn’t make everything great, but we’re trying to make the best of things right now.”
So far, things seem to be working out for Mike Weaver on the ice with his new team and with his web development business. He’s hoping to be a Canuck for a while, but is pragmatic enough to know that his professional hockey career will one day come to an end. So he’s setting himself up now for that next chapter in his life.
“I’ve got a couple of ideas I’d love to talk to somebody about patenting. I’ve got a couple of really good ideas, but I’m always thinking about other things besides hockey,” he says. “Hey, I’m not one of those guys that’s going to ever make one and two million dollar contracts. Some of these guys making six million dollars don’t even have to think about life after hockey. They’re able to live without even working. So I just try to keep things real in my head. I try to enjoy every single day on the ice and have fun with it.”
And when the time comes that hockey starts to feel like work and Mike Weaver decides it’s time to move on, he knows his next job is just a click away.